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To put the tale together, Aaron worked up a 1,200-page, single-spaced outline. He wrote notes to himself. "McQuistons coming to dinner: A.I. doesn't know how to behave with that lumpish bozo coming, so finicky about food. Use." Aaron was not done until he had written the late Arthur Inman several angry letters. In one, the professor bellows, "Arthur, you are a comic figure finally, and you are disgusting and sick, an embarrassment; you make your readers at times want to avert their gaze from your public writhings; and you are 'great' too in your persistence, which you call 'pertinacity.' You go on like some petty pharoah building your pyramid, no matter what the cost in human feeling. So hail, Arthur Inman (I say this more than merely facetiously), the Genghis Khan of Boston."
Arthur himself asked, "Do you find me repellent, sordid, amusing in a reverse sort of way? I shall never know. But reader, I do not want to lose your affection or your respect . . . Do not esteem me less now that I have written truth in black and white."
Inman's overweaning desire was for literary immortality. Today his 155 volumes are in the vault beneath the Houghton Library at Harvard. A yard or two away are the handwritten works of Emerson, Melville, Thoreau. It is interesting, though pointless, to ponder whether Arthur's last companions would make him feel at home there--or whether they would regard him as the whore in church. --By Gregory Jaynes